From day one, new hires at Secure-24 are immersed in a culture of learning, and they have a myriad of opportunities to learn and grow professionally throughout their career. “The thing people really love about Secure-24 is their ability to learn,” says Vice President of HR David Piwowar.
Secure-24, a global provider of managed cloud services, IT operations, and applications hosting, was recently named to Computerworld’s top 100 2017 Best Places to Work in IT. Combined with competitive salaries and benefits, continuous education has helped the Southfield, Michigan, business grow 20% year over year, attain a 95% employee retention rate, and earn a high customer satisfaction rate, Piwowar says, noting that training also has enabled Secure-24 employees to build career paths there.
The company hires many entry-level IT employees right out of college and puts them through its Academy Model training program. “The Academy Model is a big part of what makes us successful in our training,” says Training Manager Joe Elliott.
“It is a key differentiator for us,” Piwowar agrees.
The program includes up to 2 years of training for new hires. “They get 6 weeks of extensive training right out of the box before they go on the floor” to provide IT support to customers, Piwowar says.
As part of their training, new hires shadow more experienced employees, which helps new hires gain knowledge and expertise in a variety of advanced technologies. In addition, Academy Model participants get continuous and constant feedback from Secure-24 quality analysts, Elliott explains.
Participants get exposure to call shadowing, and they complete customer-specific training modules, which help them understand Secure-24’s relationship with customers. While some new hires are assigned to a core team that focuses on providing support to a single customer or a very small set of customers, other new hires work at the generalist desk to tackle broader support issues, Piwowar says.
“At the help desk, they train with their peers, taking the calls they can and shadowing,” Elliott adds.
Each new hire’s performance is measured against 14 objectives. They are required to demonstrate a myriad of skills, such as successfully resolving an issue or routing an issue for a customer and explaining technology from a theoretical and practical standpoint, for example, Piwowar says.
After new hires complete the Academy Model program, they have a variety of learning opportunities available to them—no matter what role they step into at Secure-24. That includes ongoing opportunities to participate in industry-specific training and certification programs, and employees are encouraged to do so. “We absolutely want them to get full exposure” to a variety of new technologies and be able to provide exceptional support to customers in the process, Elliott says.
Secure-24 recognizes the importance of helping its IT team stay current as new technologies emerge, Piwowar says, attributing the company’s success with training to a comprehensive approach. That is, managers help employees create individual development plans, and the company provides mentoring opportunities, uses bite-size learning, provides self-paced training, offers exposure to a variety of tools and technologies, and promotes a culture of continuous learning. He says Secure-24 also uses a “push and pull” approach to training in which employees are given direction regarding what skills they need to develop and latitude to pursue specific areas that interest them.